Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade

Ever since I made this photograph, I was thinking about writing a post about one of the biggest and probably most signficant temples of Srbian Orthodox church in the region – temple of Saint Sava in Vracar, Belgrade.

A week ago, while I was waiting for my second training to begin, I went to Vracar plateau and spend some time in front of temple. The day was beautiful, warm with sunshine and blue skies, people were walking around enjoing time with their kids, friends or alone.
Vracar plateau is the place where in 1595. Sinan Pasha burnt the remains of one of the most important persons in Serbian history – Saint Sava. Born in 1175. as Rastko Nemanjic, the youngest son of the Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja, he decided to go to Mount Athos – Holy Mountain on the Chalkidiki peninsula, Greece. He became a monk with given name Sava. In 1198. his father joined him and they together restored an abandoned monastery, Hilandar, which soon became a center of Serbian monastic life. In 1208. Sava returned to Serbia and helped his brothers to establish a solid state. He eventually succeeded in freeing Serbian church from the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Ohrid. In 1219. he became the first Archbishop (Arhiepiskop, in Serbian) of the new Serbian church. Sava died in 1235. and initially was burried in St Forty Martyrs Church in Turnovo, Bulgaria. In 1237. his remains were moved to Serbia and burried in Mileseva monastery. In 1595. Ottoman Turks burnt his remains in Vracar plateau in Belgrade as a revenge for Serbs siding with the Habsburgs in the preceding border skirmishes.
The idea of making a church started in 1895. when Society for the Construction of the Cathedral of Saint Sava on Vracar was founded in Belgrade. At the beginning, a small church was built at the place but beginning of Balkan wars in 1912. and First World War in 1914. stopped all the activities. Works started again in 1935. when old church was removed to make place for the main temple. At the same time a small church of St Sava was built near the main site.

Second World War stopped works again. After war, Patriarch German tried to restart to works but needed to wait until 1984. – after 88 requests for continuation of the building. Today, the temple is 91 m (298.5 ft) long from east to west, and 81 m (265.7 ft) from north to south. It is 70m (229.65 ft) tall and there is a 12m (39.4 ft) golden cross on top of the main dome. Its domes contain 18 more gold plated crosses and bell towers contain 49 bells. There is a room for 10.000 people inside the temple and 800 members of choir. The basement contains a crypt, the treasury of Saint Sava, and the grave church of Saint Lazar the Hieromartyr. Even though the most of the works has been done by now, the inside of the temple are still waiting for donations to be finished.

More photos here.

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63 Responses to Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade

  1. Dacotah says:

    "Srbian", what is that? Great post Darko, love these two photos.

  2. gdare says:


  3. PainterWoman says:

    Fantastic history lesson Darko. Really interesting and beautiful architecture. I couldn't believe the Turks burned his remains over 300 years later. I guess some people hold grudges. I'm off to see your album.

  4. gdare says:

    Carol, it was a typo, I wanted to write "Serbian" :)Thanks πŸ™‚

  5. Dacotah says:

    Oh, sorry. I thought it was part of the name of the place. You are welcome. πŸ™‚

  6. gdare says:

    Pam, they did it as a revenge. Also, because he represented a memory and a hope. Serbians had a state long before Turks came and it was a modern state according to European standards of that times. Saint Sava also has instituted the Serbian education, literature, health, the legal system and science in medieval Serbia.I guess they wanted to erase that memory and traces he left behind him. But they failed.

  7. gdare says:

    Thank you Linda, I am trying my best.Serbian church is Orthodox Christian. You can read more here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian_Orthodox_Church

  8. L2D2 says:

    Enjoyed this history lesson a lot, Dare, and the church is beautiful. Is the Serbian church catholic? Good post. Your posts are always interesting.

  9. edwardpiercy says:

    Thanks for the info! πŸ˜€

  10. edwardpiercy says:

    Saint Sava's architecture reminds me of Constantinople types. And yet you mention that the church is much newer than that so — Greek influence?If I remember correctly Henry VIII of England took out the remains of St. Thomas a Becket out of Canterbury Cathedral and had them buried in some tiny cemetary or whatever. Like the turks it was more revenge and propaganda than anything else.

  11. L2D2 says:

    Seems people never learn though, that if we don't learn lessons from history, we are bound to repeat it.

  12. gdare says:

    Ed, it is made in Serbian-Byzantine style. Architects Bogdan Nestorovic and Aleksandar Deroko made a project and it won in open competition in 1926. Greece, being itself an Orthodox Christian country has a lot of similarities in religious architecture. As you probably know, gothic arches are the mark of most Catholic Christian churches while Byzantine arches are usual for Orthodox churches.Linda, history proves that. Violence over weak and helpless always makes martyr.

  13. L2D2 says:

    It's sad that people take revenge on a dead body. It just makes a martyr in people's minds.

  14. ellinidata says:

    thanks Darko, we did talk about this church in the past.I am delighted to read more πŸ™‚ Faith many times is gone wrong. When Constantinople was taken, the "Agia Sophia" became a mosque and to this day (even as a museum remains a mosque).Of course all members of a nation shouldn't be blamed and be responsible for the actions of the few, but speaking from personal experience,hate started to fade btwn the Greeks and Turks. The new generation is wiser. and I am glad to see this happening :)History has to be protected by all, despite of faith, color, politics….

  15. claudeb says:

    Good job as usual, Darko! So, the temple is in the middle of a city? From the first photo, I was hoping it's in a place with less concrete.Originally posted by gdare:

    I think the world is changing and we are witnessing it!

    I think the change is that information travels so easily nowadays, and the more you know about somebody, the harder it is to hate them. People used to rely on rumors, propaganda and religious dogma; nowadays they get the news right from the source, and can judge for themselves.

  16. gdare says:

    Originally posted by ellinidata:

    hate started to fade btwn the Greeks and Turks.

    I think the world is changing and we are witnessing it!

  17. gdare says:


  18. ellinidata says:

    :yes: :heart: it was about time!

  19. gdare says:

    Felix, when they made a plans for making a temple more than 100 years ago, Vracar was mostly a wood and fields – but I guess in 1895. no one could predict how wide a city is going to grow. This is how it looks like today:

  20. Spaggyj says:

    A great post for me to read on a Sunday. Beautiful pictures and an interesting history lesson – which is in big contrast. Thanks :happy:

  21. Furie says:

    Man that little church would make a great setting for a horror movie. :yes:

  22. ricewood says:

    Thanks for the lesson. Entries like this emphasizes one of many good reasons to be into weblogging

  23. gdare says:

    Kimmie, thank you for taking your time and reading this. Sometimes, I feel like making posts like this so people from the other countries and continents could know us better. And maybe understand us. For too many years we were considered as bad so I wanted to show a better side of people in Serbia. What is the better way than through a photos and stories? And history.Mik, knowing you as a semi-god of your own religion, I could expect a comment like this :lol:Allan, I have the same thoughts. When I started my "life" here, first intention was to meet different people and cultures. And to have a fun. Knowledge is probably the most important thing in life. And life is too short to be wasted :up:

  24. Spaggyj says:

    To be honest, I have never taken stock in certain things "history" tells us about other cultures. I hate propaganda, and that's what prejudice to a country or a nation is. My grandmother goes on, for instance, about "how Japanese are so vicious in the war", and I get rather irritated with her. To be on opposing sides, the other side has plenty of "proof" that their opposition is bad, nasty, vicious, whatever. I say this to her, how we were just as vicious to them, but it doesn't really make sense to her. I really enjoy learning, especially other sides to things, so thank you again.

  25. Furie says:

    I've never considered Serbians as bad, apart from one of the bad guys in GTA4 (evil traitor called Darko :p) but he was balanced out by the hero being Serbian too. Like Kim says, propaganda causes weak minds to believe what they're told, because they just don't know any better. And no-one's gonna take the time afterwards to say "Oh, looks like we got it wrong after all."The world is changing though, and the information age is stopping these things slowly. You've just gotta look at the different ways the gulf wars were received to see that. Both had almost identical backgrounds and details to them, but people were more aware of facts over propaganda during the second one and it was only supported by those few idiots who still put patriotism above what is right.

  26. edwardpiercy says:

    And then, in a completely separate category, there's FOX news. Who basically just make up their own news from inside their own heads. "Don't confuse me with the facts" the old saying goes. They all should be on some sort of medication.

  27. Furie says:

    Fox News is still famous for taking a story about a videogame featuring full frontal nudity and graphic sex scenes and running with it to the point that the game got pulled off shelves in America. During their report they quoted a blog as their source which was run by someone who hadn't played the game and who later changed his tune after playing it and seeing that the one sex scene was tastefully and cleanly presented.

  28. edwardpiercy says:

    Well you know Darko I would have to agree with her. Sorry. It's sort of like photojournalist John Hoagland said once: "I don't believe in objectivity. Everyone has their point of view."Now don't get me wrong, I believe in truth and in empericism. But for a journalist to say that they don't take sides would be a lie in itself. "Hitler. I'm against him. Stalin, I'm against him"And perhaps yes, "Milosovic, I'm against him."I'm reminded of those UN troops who just sat around and drank coffee when the massacre at Zebrenica was taking place because they thought their job as "Peacekeepers" was to remain neutral. And that's just bullshit. And BTW, if any foreign journalist wants to take issue with what the US does — more power to them, I say.

  29. Spaggyj says:

    No, that's why I put the word in brackets. They teach propaganda as history here, sometimes. I suppose every nation does it to a degree, some are worse than others. It's… Not history πŸ˜†

  30. gdare says:

    Kimmie, I never mixed history with propaganda; it is a line of facts that tells a certain story; ther are no bed or good guys, just a series of events that produces other series of events. What I particularly like about history is that it shows a background of a nation`s background, roots and developement :up:Mik, Niko and Darko πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜† I`ve forgot about them :doh:Information age makes flow of information faster and gives more opportunity to check on credibility of them; I use to say that Internet is a pile of garbage, one just need to know where and how to dig :yes:Ed, so after CNN there is a FOX now. I stopped watching CNN during 1999. – I had a bad opinion about Christiane Amanpour particularly.About her reporting from Bosnia:"There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn't mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing."So much about her objectivity….

  31. claudeb says:

    Originally posted by Furie:

    propaganda causes weak minds to believe what they're told, because they just don't know any better

    Funny, just two weeks ago I commented this on somebody else's blog post: http://my.opera.com/jerobarraco/blog/update-the-power-of-choosing#comment10635869 (reposting here to spare everyone a page load).Originally posted by claudeb:

    Knowledge is power is freedom. Too bad so many people are afraid of real knowledge. I think it makes them insecure. Much of traditional "education" is based on fear: in school, in church… sometimes even at home. They don't fear the unknown; they fear the knowledge of what is truly out there. They are taught to.What we can do is try and show people the beauty of knowing. It's not easy or quick, but in time it will work. Just look at the increasing number of atheists in many countries; these people don't necessarily oppose religion, they oppose ignorance (and hatred, bu that's another discussion, although related).

  32. gdare says:

    Mik, I think you blogged about it recently, right?Ed, I agree that everyone has to have own point of view but photojournalists are always in a position to influence public opinion. And, knowing that C. Amanpour is married to USA politician, she has more influence than just in shaping opinion of CNN public… After her reports, Serbs got label as killers and butchers. I agree that ones who did murders must face trials and serve for what they did. But no one can`t blame a whole nation for what they did. But CNN labeled us pretty good :irked:On the other hand, I do not want this to turn into a question what is older, egg or a chicken; who is wrong and who is right; I guess I just have my point of view :)Kimmie, you are right, unfortunately. I can still remember history lessons from when Yugoslavia existed as a communist country. It was all black and white πŸ˜†

  33. edwardpiercy says:

    There is one more thing perhaps to add about the Homeland Wars thing. And then I'll let it go. Promise.You know that pretty much nobody here in the US supported Clinton sending troops in there, don't you? Almost nobody. Perhaps they felt they were fighting an uphill battle and had panicked a bit in trying to do what they thought right. ????Hey I should have those Bee Girls photos mailed to you in a couple of hours. Hopefully before you go to bed. :devil: (I just got up and am just now having coffee. Yes, UTC -8 ! πŸ˜† )

  34. gdare says:

    Originally posted by claudeb:

    these people don't necessarily oppose religion, they oppose ignorance

    I can relate to that, completely :up:

  35. SittingFox says:

    That church is truly beautiful! :)As for the news…if it ever was about the truth, it certainly isn't now. Most of it is carefully crafted PR or recycled material from wire companies anyway. But I think there is slightly more objectivity in British news than American news (I don't know if their coverage of the Balkans war was more evenhanded – I was too young to pay much attention, although my uncle certainly thought that it wasn't – but there is less party political bias.)

  36. gdare says:

    There was a story I read somewhere, about shaping public opinion about first Gulf war. At the beginning, only about 30% USA citizens supported the idea of sending troops to Iraq. Then, after only few months of intensive journalist reports and political TV shows, research of public opinion came with much bigger percentage of supporters of idea. I am sorry I can`t remember but I am sure it was from some of the USA analysts.I will wait for girls to come :devil:

  37. gdare says:

    Adele, thank you.As for the news πŸ˜€ I think that less some country has political engagement in Balkan wars, the more objective their reports were πŸ™‚

  38. Furie says:

    You know I'm a fan of Bill Hicks, yeah Darko? Look up some of his videos on Youtube about the Gulf war. It's amazing how relevant the material is to the more recent one too. Hell, you don't even need to rename the President. :lol:.If I remembered everything I blogged about my head would explode. :insane: That's one of the reasons I write posts so often.Claude, information is important to me. Too often I've seen people choose what they've been told to be true rather than to look for their own answers in life. Even if you get the answer wrong, asking the question can be important.

  39. gdare says:

    I know about Bill Hicks, my friend sent me links to some of his shows on You Tube :up:

  40. claudeb says:

    Originally posted by Furie:

    Too often I've seen people choose what they've been told to be true rather than to look for their own answers in life.

    Nice story you have there. Were it true, it would be doubly ironic: turns out, what you don't know can hurt you.

  41. studio41 says:

    you are a scholar, Dark. thanks for the information and excellent post… and pictures.

  42. gdare says:

    Thank you Jill, I am glad you liked it :happy:

  43. MirabelaTM says:

    Great post and the photos Darko :up: I refreshed my knowledge about St.Sava

  44. gdare says:

    Thanks Mira. Sometimes we must remind ourselves of a great things we have in our town and a history that marked our country πŸ˜€

  45. Minenow says:

    :eyes: WOW. The photos are striking, but to me, the stories behind them are what make them special. :happy: The idea of almost 11 thousand people fitting into one place of worship is staggering.

  46. gdare says:

    Thanks Mina πŸ™‚ I was amazed when I read that too. 10.000 people are a lot. In 1985, while a temple had only walls, there were 12.000 people attending liturgy plus additional 80.000 around the temple :eyes:

  47. Minenow says:

    :faint: You think they had Port-a-pottys?

  48. Minenow says:

    You'd be surprised. Ever been pregnant? πŸ˜€

  49. gdare says:

    Nope :left:But pregnant women should consider if they should be in a crowd with 10.000 people, anyway :insane:

  50. gdare says:

    Liturgy lasts about one and half hour, I don`t think anyone would need toilet that much πŸ˜€

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